Singapore Airlines has set a target to become carbon neutral by 2050 as part of its decarbonization strategy. This will be a boost to Singapore Airlines’ image if the target is reached because of the growing demand for environmental, social and governance (ESG) transparency and concrete actions.

According to GlobalData’s 2021 Q3 Consumer Survey, 19% of global respondents took eco-holidays*, which shows that a fairly significant number of travelers are conscious about their impact on the environment. In the GlobalData Q2 2022 ESG Sentiment Polls** 31% of respondents believed that for most companies, ESG is just a marketing exercise, with a further 23% saying Some companies take ESG seriously, but for others it’s a marketing exercise.* A move by Singapore Airlines to reduce its carbon footprint is likely to gain positive feedback from the public.

The airline industry can use ESG solutions to improve how it is viewed

It is no secret that airlines typically struggle with a negative ESG image because of the inherent carbon intensive nature of the industry. This makes working towards carbon neutrality and publicizing what is being done very important for companies. The initiative set out by Singapore Airlines shows a clear plan to reduce its carbon footprint to be neutral by 2050. Following a successful test period and validation of SITA OptiClimb outcomes, the tool has been used on Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350 fleet since August 2022. SITA has calculated that the solution will help the carrier cut aircraft carbon emissions by up to 15,000 tons annually.

The unique solution combines aircraft tail-specific machine-learning models with 4D weather forecasts to recommend customized climb speeds at different altitudes. It leverages historical flight data to predict fuel burn in different flight scenarios and recommends optimized climb profiles on a user-friendly interface for pilots. It is estimated that airlines can derive fuel savings of up to 5% during climb-out on each flight, with around 5.6 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions avoided annually with this technology.

Following through on promises will be of paramount importance

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The International Air Transport Association expects the cumulative volume of aviation carbon emissions between 2021 and 2050 to be approximately 21.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide if left unabated. The air transport industry has been working on a range of measures to reduce carbon emissions and achieve net-zero status by 2050. These measures include using sustainable aviation fuels, new aircraft technology, and operational and infrastructure improvements to help increase aircraft fuel efficiency and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. Prominent airlines such as Singapore Airlines showing initiative to tackle commercial aviation emissions will likely be welcomed.

Plans for emission reduction have the effect of boosting the public image of a company. However, the need for companies to follow through on promises and plans to tackle their environmental impact and carbon emissions is key. Otherwise companies risk damaging their public image. This is especially important as consumers are increasingly aware of false or empty promises.

*GlobalData’s Q3 2021 Consumer Survey – 22,499

**GlobalData’s ESG Sentiment Polls Q2 2022 – 1,090